A New York lawmaker said on Monday she plans to offer legislation to address some of the problems plaguing credit card customers who have been blindsided with interest rate changes and various fees.
Consumers are concerned about interest rates and fees and not knowing anything about it, said Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the House of Representatives subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit.
After a two-hour meeting with credit card issuers and consumer group advocates, Maloney told reporters her congressional office also plans to propose this week a set of best practices for those companies. She did not provide specifics on them or on the legislation.
Maloney said the meeting -- attended by representatives from six companies including megabanks JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup and Bank of America Corp. -- resulted in an open, cross-exchange of ideas she plans to use as her office prepares the principles and legislation.
Representatives from credit card issuers Discover Financial Services, Capital One Financial Corp. and American Express Co. and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, also attended, Maloney said.
Failures by credit card issuers to properly notify customers of rate changes and fees have come under intense scrutiny by Congress and some federal regulators.
The Federal Reserve has proposed clearer, expanded disclosures to help consumers understand late fees and rate changes, as well as other changes.
The meeting was also attended by Michael Castle, a Delaware Republican, who told reporters that improved disclosure is essential to helping consumers and warned against over-legislating the credit card industry.
However, a consumer advocacy group said the industry has to do more than make changes to disclosure practices.
We clearly don't agree, said Travis Plunkett, legislative director at the Consumer Federation of America, who attended the meeting. You've got to change behavior.
Maloney and Castle said they were told by issuer representatives at the meeting that they have changed some of their practices, such as ending universal default and double-cycle billing and allowing for fixed rates for up to two years.
She said she will meet with federal regulatory agencies this week to discuss the proposed best practices principles for the industry and planned legislation.